Berry, who spent three seasons here as Browns Vice President of Player Personnel from 2016-2018, has been hired as the Browns’ 16th general manager and sixth since the Haslams purchased the team in 2012. He will also have the title of Executive Vice President of Football Operations.
The five-year deal will be announced this afternoon. At 32, Berry is the youngest GM in the NFL.
A favorite of Jimmy Haslam and Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta, Berry will try to buck the trend of GMs lasting about two years under the Haslams. Only John Dorsey exceeded that, lasting two seasons and four games.
As laid out by Haslam during his season-ending press conference on Jan. 2nd, Berry will have final say over roster decisions. He’ll pair with new Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, 37, who was hired Jan. 12th as the 18th full-time coach in Browns history and 10th since their rebirth in 1999. He’s also the sixth since the Haslams purchased the team in 2012.
The addition of Berry gives the Browns’ an all-Ivy League triumvirate running the show in Harvard-educated DePodesta and Berry, and Penn grad Stefanski, and will provide Haslam with the philosophical alignment he’s been seeking since he purchased the team.
Berry, who served as Eagles Vice President of Football Operations in 2019, was one of the three known candidates interviewed for the job, along with Vikings assistant general manager George Paton and Patriots Director of College Scouting Monti Ossenfort. A fourth candidate, Colts assistant general manager Ed Dodds, declined the Browns’ interview request.
Berry jumped back to the forefront on Friday when Paton took himself out of the running for the job after an eight-hour second interview at Browns headquarters on Thursday. Paton initially declined the interview, but accepted it for the chance to work with Stefanski, his 13-year Vikings colleague.
In the end, however, he wasn’t 100% comfortable with the organizational structure, which includes DePodesta also reporting to Jimmy Haslam and having a lot of influence in personnel and coaching decisions.
Berry got to know Stefanski during the Browns’ coaching search in 2019, and the two have remained in touch. They were eager to work together last year and that still holds true.
Berry and DePodesta also favored Stefanski in the 2019 coaching search, but Dorsey hired Freddie Kitchens instead, and they were both let go after a 6-10 season.
Berry was also coveted by the Panthers this offseason as their Executive Vice President of Football Operations, but they would’ve had to offer final say over the roster for the Eagles to grant permission.
In Philadelphia, Berry worked alongside GM Howie Roseman in all aspects of the job, from talent evaluation to contract negotiations.
He left the Browns shortly after the coaching search last year to have a larger role in personnel decisions in Philly. In Cleveland, he had a less authority when John Dorsey took over as fulltime GM in 2018, bringing Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith from Green Bay, as assistant GM and Vice President of Players Personnel, respectively.
Berry was the highest-ranking talent evaluator under Brown in 2016 and 2017 when the Browns went 1-31, but Brown still had final say over all roster decisions, including the decision to trade the 2016 No. 2 overall pick to the Eagles, who drafted quarterback Carson Wentz.
Brown also passed on Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in the 2017 draft, and all three quarterbacks were in the playoffs this season, with Mahomes getting ready to face the 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Hue Jackson, who was fired midway through the 2018 season with Dorsey as GM, also tried to persuade Brown to trade for Jimmy Garappolo, but Brown didn’t make an offer before the trade deadline, and the 49ers swooped in and grabbed him for a second-round pick. He now has them in the Super Bowl.
But Berry shouldn’t be blamed for the poor personnel decisions of Brown, who made 24 draft selections in 2016 and only five remain on the roster.
When the Browns hired Berry away from the Colts as a 28-year-old executive, he was praised by former Indy exec and Hall of Famer Bill Polian.
“Andrew Berry is one of the brightest young men we ever had the pleasure of working with,” Polian said. “He came to us very early in his career and very soon we realized he was on a fast track. I am not surprised the Browns hired him for this very important position. I assure you he has both the capacity and the will to do an outstanding job. The Browns have made, in my humble opinion, a great hire.”
Before joining the Browns, Berry spent seven seasons with the Colts (2009-2015), including the last four as pro scouting director. In Indy, Berry managed the free agency process, scouting upcoming opponents and evaluated pro talent from the NFL and other leagues. He also assisted with contract negotiations for free agents and participated in college scouting and the draft.
Berry graduated cum laude from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in computer science in four years. He was also a four-year starter at cornerback and a three-time All-Ivy League team selection and an All-America honoree.